In diabetes, damage to the nerves occurs over time and the symptoms progressively worsen. We rely on our nerves to be able to feel, and when they are damaged, our ability to detect sensation is diminished. We can begin to experience sensation changes such as:
The last of these, the absence of sensation, is considered the most dangerous because instead of feeling a numbness or odd sensation, you simply lose the ability to feel. This means we can sustain cuts, wounds, or even stand on a sharp rock that may penetrate the skin and not be able to feel the injury. Without feeling it, we don’t know that we need to clean and care for the wound and we risk infection, ulceration and worse consequences.
This means that when we do sustain an injury to our feet, it takes longer to heal, leaving the wound susceptible to infection for longer, and diminishing the response and effective clearing of any infections. Combined with an increased risk of injury from diminished sensation, this is a dangerous combination for anyone affected.
The effects on sensation and circulation both progressively worsen over time, and the rate at which it progresses varies for everyone and is typically associated with how well you manage your diabetes. Because of this, it is important that you have regular diabetic foot health assessments. These assessments check the symptoms you are currently experiencing so you are aware of the current risks to your feet and health. It also allows us to advise you on the best way to manage the symptoms you’re experiencing and how to best protect your feet. It is recommended that you have a diabetic foot health check at least once per year.